The Public Domain is Offline

Provider of Free Public Domain Music Shuts Down –

The International Music Score Library Project was a community driven, Wiki based site that offered various scores that were in the public domain- in Canada. That’s the key, there- Canada uses Berne-required copyright term, 50 years after the death of the author. Other countries, including the U.S. and several in Europe, have longer copyright terms (life+70). Universal Edition, out of Europe, sent the Library Project a cease and desist, which it is complying with. A person who runs the site also noted that there were four composers who UE demanded be removed that had been dead for more than 70 years– but it’s possible that they were protected by some Austrian copyright law. At any rate, not having the time, energy, or resources to deal with all of the possible consequences, the site was shut down.

There are many issues brought up by this situation. One of the most worrying is that the most restrictive copyright law in the world can potentially become the de facto copyright law of the Internet, particularly for those with few resources.

The site owner has offered to allow an association of music libraries or similar organizations the opportunity to continue the site in some form, if they can- I hope someone takes that challenge.


  1. MBA Programs said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 12:51 am

    Everyone is well aware of the fact that both copyright and the public domain serve authors and the public hence copyrights automatically give an author a temporary monopoly over distribution of his work, just to encourage him to write and earn a living by it. However people can make use of rich source of material on public domain, which they can freely read, retell, perform, and distribute.

    More information on the public domain is very well presented in a book by Stephen Fishman, called The Public Domain: How to Find Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art and More (Nolo Press, 2000).

  2. Public Domain Books said,

    July 7, 2008 @ 2:51 am

    Music and whether it is in fact in the Public Domain is often hard to detect. The laws in and outside of the United States are clear as mud.

    So many internet websites offer music as Public Domain, but it’s a case of “buyer” beware… because often as not, the Public Domain laws for music change quickly.

    This is not the same for Public Domain books or magazines. The copyright laws are much clearer.

    If you are considering using music publicly… please consider purchasing copyright free music instead of depending on someones interpretation of the music copyright laws.

  3. seo company india said,

    September 2, 2008 @ 6:33 am

    Great tips on Public Domain books…

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